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Saturday, 18 July 2009
The Ammonite's Lament
Out of my oyster world when you took blade
to pop the sepulchre apart that held
and had held me for aeons - stone within
a stone, you might say - only to release
me then into this altered world to find
the chambers at the closed end of my spiral
ringing emptier than ever. Water
was my element, and so it was that
sailing it, I came to find my métier.
Perched at my spiral's open end, I rode
the waves and all that nature threw at me
like some intimidating figurehead
Beelzebub had carved. But I was King
among the species that the world bred then.
Now I, who have been flesh and blood like you,
am stone, more shell-like than my shell was then,
no longer buoyant - hence the hollow ring.
No use these cells, they're surplus to my needs.
There is no buoyancy for them to give.
Just beauty, I suppose, but what is that
to me? My soul does not respond to it -
nor did it ever, no not even then
before the great upheaval changed my form
to stone. What's that you say? I was not King?
That there were higher forms of life than !?
Not so, though lowly were my family
four hundred million years ago - just flecks
of plankton floating on a shallow sea.
Slow time allowed their growth, the cells they formed,
at first in-line behind, then hairpin-shaped
before they flowered into this, the form
I know as perfect, the plane spiral. Then
was I the predator, voracious and
as deadly to all fish and molluscs in
my path as are my modern cousins, squid
and such, to crabs and other well-built prey.
I do not overstate - but if I should,
did you not know that even stones may dream -
particularly one that once had life?
Out from that claustrophobic vein, re-
interred then in this fusty study's reek
of love and polish... this, I'll settle for.
The way that iron enters a man's soul
its pyrites forced their way into my shell,
pushed out its carbonates, its building blocks,
and thereby changed its nature, making it
less tender to decay. But that was just
the coup de grâce, preserving what had been
the thick-skinned part of me. Before that, all
my softer tissues had been leached from me
the way an art thief might replace a work
with something of his own. The rocks made good
my loss, but in the making made of me
a sterile monument to what had been.
I've heard my owner say I stimulate
his thoughts - not bad for plain and thought-less stone!